DPOR Consumer Guide | Beware of Decorative Contact Lenses

DPOR Consumer Guide | Beware of Decorative Contact Lenses

The Virginia Board for Hearing Aid Specialists and Opticians warns consumers to beware of decorative contact lenses without proper fitting by a licensed eye care professional. Only properly trained, licensed opticians may fit consumers with contact lenses. 

Decorative, cosmetic or “plano” lenses are marketed in an array of colors and designs to alter the appearance of the eye, not to improve vision. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), such lenses are available at flea markets, convenience stores, costume shops and various retail locations. 

Since they don’t correct vision, many consumers mistakenly believe cosmetic lenses are harmless accessories. But serious health risks--including permanent eye damage and even blindness--may result if contact lenses are dispensed improperly or without professional fitting. The lenses are considered medical devices and can lead to corneal abrasions or ulcers, conjunctivitis, allergic reaction and vision-threatening ocular infection. In extreme cases, uncontrolled infection and corneal scarring may result in blindness and eye loss.

Even if the lenses feel comfortable, they may be rubbing or pressing too firmly on the cornea without the wearer noticing. With so many ways for poorly fit lenses to hurt you, it’s important to rely on a licensed optician or eye doctor.

While decorative lenses are especially popular as Halloween costume accessories, the risks remain with everyday use. Sharing or trading lenses is dangerous because used lenses are bathed in tears that may contain infectious or contagious agents.


  • Learn more about contact lens safety by visiting the FDA website.
  • For general information about buying eyeglasses and choosing an optician, see this DPOR Consumer Guide.